Driving Customer-Acquisition Traffic
For example, Barnes & Noble's Web site owns not only bn.com, barnesandnoble.com, barnesandnoble.net and barnesnoble.com, but also book.com. Amazon.com owns the equally powerful bestsellers.com, potentially attracting the few people on the planet who haven't heard of Amazon.
Now that Web growth has slowed and newbies have matured into old hands, users have abandoned AOL, Yahoo and other easy-to-use guides, right? Wrong.
"No matter how long people have been using the Web, some people still have a general misunderstanding of how to surf the Internet because there's no training on it," says Doug Wagner, president of 24/7 Website Results, the search-engine optimization arm of 24/7 Real Media. "Instead of typing a URL into a location window, people will go to a search engine and type Hotmail.com."
Regardless of how easy your domain is to remember, you still need prime placement on the best real estate on the Web. The best Internet penetration continues to be found at AOL, MSN, Yahoo!, Google, Lycos and About Network—all of which were among Nielson/NetRatings' top 10 Internet sites the week of March 10, 2002. Traffic from major search engines can account for more than half of a successful site's traffic, and to a large extent, your Web site's traffic will be directly proportional to its position in the major search engines.
The key is to get a top engine placement for the searches that count for you. If your potential customer sees your competitor above the fold and you're listing is below it, don't expect that prospect to see your listing, much less your irresistible offer. While submitting your site to many search engines and directories is free, the best placement requires an investment—either in fee-based directory listings or search-engine optimization services or both.
Much of search-engine optimization is a matter of programming the page correctly so the search engine finds it on as many searches as possible. When robots visit a Web page, they read the page's HTML text, including meta tags, page titles, image alt tags, comments and links. But simply seeding your meta tags with keywords isn't enough. Says Wagner, "The search won't convert well unless the description matches the search. It used to be that people would click anything, but now we see that they read the description, and they'll click on the site when the description matches their search." An optimization service can create and update those customized listings for you.